Where Do You Put Your Children on Snow Days?

Ellen Bravo wrote a piece for the Nation this week about the conundrum of childcare on snow days. Kids get snow days from school but parents still have to work. It just doesn’t add up!

Some cities have found a common-sense solution. Ordinances guaranteeing that workers can earn paid sick days are starting to include language that allows workers to use those sick days when schools are closed for public health purposes. Everyone benefits from these laws—families already on the brink have more money to spend, which helps boost the economy, and businesses don’t have to pay to hire and train a new employee.

Unfortunately not many cities have this policy, and not everyone has paid sick days, either. One would hope that an employer would be understanding in situations like this — but many either aren’t or can’t be. Bravo’s piece, for instance, revolves around a woman in Chicago named Rhiannon Broschat who lost her job at Whole Foods when she missed work to stay home and take care of her special needs kid on a snow day. Schools were closed that day by the city, and her back-up childcare was unavailable, so she unfortunately had no other options and is now out of a job. Also this:

[My former co-worker Teresa] described a similar experience on a day when schools were closed because of sub-zero weather here in Milwaukee. Because of our organization’s personnel policy, she was able to stay home with her kids. At 6:30 that morning, a woman she recognized but did not know from her neighborhood knocked at her door holding the hand of a 5-year-old boy.

She asked whether Teresa was staying home that day, and then said, “You look like a nice person. Will you watch my son? I’ll be fired if I don’t go in.” The lack of paid time off puts many working parents in desperate situations.

All over the country, parents are losing jobs or vital income because of conflicting orders: public health officials instructing parents to keep kids home, and bosses threatening to fire workers who don’t come in. No one should be out in the cold for being a good parent.

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